CVS - Computer Eye Strain

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Computer eye strain is the #1 eyestrain complaint in the U.S.

Self Help & Tips

CVS (computer vision syndrome), more commonly known as computer eye strain is a combination of vision problems noticed during and after working long hours on the computer. OSHA describes it as a repetitive strain disorder affecting 90% of U.S. workers on computers daily.

Computers are becoming ubiquitous - they are everywhere and in many forms - all requiring close focused vision.

We evolved as hunters and gatherers with vision designed for distance. Our eye muscles are most relaxed using our distance vision. Likewise, we were design to move, and an all-day sitting position is unnatural with consequences on eye and general health.

Woman with eye strain

Staring at your computer for long hours without a break strains your eyes and bodies and results in computer eye strain. Studies show that computer users blink less often, which, Japanese researchers indicate, greatly increases one's risk of developing short-term dry eye syndrome.

HEV Blue Light

While patients are more familiar with vision damage from UVA and UVB light, fewer are aware of the damage to the retina from blue light, or HEV light which is emitted by computer screens. UV light does not penetrate the retina. Blue light does, (hence the recommendation, when outdoors, to wear amber colored sunglasses). In the case of students on computers and computer professionals, the HEV light emitted by computers is another serious source of light that can damage the retina and cause macular degeneration.1, 2

Over time, too much computer use has negative effects that add up including development of farsightedness (presbyopia), nearsightedness (myopia), astigmatism, poor eye-coordination, and ability-to-focus disorders. In addition, sitting in the same position for hours causes neck, back and shoulder stiffness and tension headaches, which in turn cause TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain. And, of course, the threat of direct damage to the retina from HEV blue light.


  • Eyestrain and fatigue
  • Blurred or fuzzy vision
  • Dizziness, upset stomach
  • Difficulty focusing on work
  • Headaches and migraine headaches
  • Dry, red, or irritated eyes
  • Increased myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Color vision changes
  • Slow ability to refocus
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Neck strain, shoulder, and upper and lower back pain
  • Occasional double vision, or eye-coordination problems


  • Too close to computer
  • Too many hours at the computer
  • Blinking less
  • Poor posture
  • Poor lighting
  • Excessive glare

Conventional Treatment

  • Aspirin or pain medication
  • Stronger glasses

Self Help for Computer Eye Strain

  • Read about how eye exercises and attention to nutrients have helped people with computer eye strain.
  • Read general points on preventing eye strain
  • Helpful computer habits
    • Breaks are important! Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, less frequent time away from the screen. Try to take breaks 2-3 minutes every 15-20 minutes, 5 minutes every 30 minutes, or 10 minutes every hour.
    • Eye exercises and massage or acupressure points, done every hour that you spend on your computer, are very relaxing and helpful.
    • We provide free eye exercises.
    • Set up your computer correctly and use a good monitor. See more details on your desktop computer setup or your laptop use.
    • Use proper posture. Tucked in chin, slightly curve your neck rather than leaning forward, have your upper back fairly straight with only a slight roundedness, and hollow your low back -- but don't strain.
    • Avoid overhead lights, preference: a desk lamp.
    • Control glare lights and windows.
    • Keep your wrists fairly straight to lessen the likelihood of carpel tunnel syndrome. use a wrist support pad if that helps.
    • Cubicle inhabitant? Give it some "expansiveness" by putting a mirror on one of the walls. You'll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.
    • See more prevention information

Related Conditions

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See computer eye syndrome research.

1. The Chesapeake Bay Waterman Study, Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society. 1989; 87: 802-853
2. Fifteen-year cumulative incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Beaver Dam Eye Study, R. Klein, et al, Ophthalmology. 2007 Feb;114(2):253-62; this study continued to 2010.

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